Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination

Peter Ackroyd

Highly original and magnificent in scope, Albion: the Origin of the English Imagination discovers the roots of English cultural history in the Anglo-Saxon period, and traces it through the centuries.

Ackroyd demonstrates that a quintessentially English quality can be discovered in all forms of English culture, not only in literature but also in painting, music, architecture, philosophy and science.

Albion engages the reader with stories and surprises – from Boewulf to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, via Chaucer and Shakespeare, to then Brontë sisters, Alice through the Looking Glass and The Lord of the Rings.

‘An explosion. Crammed, digressive, learned, brilliant.’ Telegraph

‘Covers not only literature but art, architecture, music and almost everything else that has passed through the minds of the English. Just one damn interesting thing after another.’ Sunday Times

‘An ingenious essay in cultural anthropology.’ The New York Times Book Review

‘Beguiling. . . . A hugely readable book. . . . Pick it up whenever you need, open it wherever you like, read as much as you want with profit and pleasure.’ The Wall Street Journal

‘This work could have been produced only by the liveliest of intellects, drawing on an astonishing depth of experience. Ackroyd in his own writing demonstrates the quality of the English imagination.’ The Spectator

‘As ever, where Ackroyd excels is in the patient accumulation of suggestive detail or sudden descent unto a distinctive corner of the English world.’ The Independent


  • Chatto & Windus UK
  • Nan A Talese USA
  • BB ART Czech Republic
  • Radio reading licence Czech Radio 3-Vltava
  • Gingko (Shanghai) Book Co China (simplified characters)

Radio reading licence: Czech Radio 3-Vltava

Material: finished copies (516pp)